East Texas Catholics discuss removal of Bishop Strickland

East Texas Catholics discuss removal of Bishop Strickland
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:42 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Last Saturday, the Vatican announced the removal of Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, following an in-person investigation into his leadership. While the results of that investigation are still pending, East Texas Catholics are asking questions about the loss of their controversial leader.

“Growing up Catholic in East Texas, it’s hard not to know Bishop Strickland, " said Jarad Kent. “He was raised here in East Texas and was really with the church locally in the Diocese of Tyler, from the Diocese’s beginnings in the 1980s, so he’s been a leader here in the Catholic community for as long as I can remember.”

Bishop Strickland has been the subject of national news coverage for his preaching, including recent public comments targeted at Pope Francis. In an August 22 letter to the Diocese, he wrote that “many of these truths will be examined as a part as a part of the Synod on Synodality.”

Strickland refers to the ongoing conference at the Vatican, where church leaders are discussing the future of the church. While nothing is being voted on, leaders have touched on the topic of woman deacons and blessing same-sex marriages.

Many East Texans stand firm in their support of Bishop Strickland in light of recent events, including Cindy Oliveto, who is a self-proclaimed “ICBOBS”, or “I came because of Bishop Strickland.”

Oliveto and her husband moved to Tyler from Washington State to be closer to family in Alabama, but like hundreds of other East Texans, they moved to worship with a leader that they say is simply practicing their true faith.

“We also knew that the Bishop stood on grounds that our modern church today is not so fond of, it’s unfortunate but we have a sense of modernism that has been growing in the Catholic faith and it’s counter to the foundational truth that is in the Catechism,” said Oliveto.

Strickland was first asked to resign by Pope Francis before being removed. Father Tim Kelly of Holy Spirit Church in Holly Lake has previously called for his resignation.

“Rome has spoken, that is the end of the matter, and to all of those faithful Catholics out there, your membership to the Catholic church is not the same as your citizenship, the church is not a democracy,” said Kelly.

Kent, an attorney at Wilson Elser in Tyler, stands by the Bishop’s outspokenness.

“That’s part of what I truly adored about Bishop Strickland, was his courage and his willingness to speak truth when something needed to be spoken, and certainly that has been a criticism that has been laid at his feet,” said Kent.

The Knights of the Republic, a Catholic group whose vision is to “Restore the prestige and glory of Holy Mother Church and Christendom” will be holding a march in support of Bishop Strickland on Saturday. It will begin at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler and proceed to the downtown square, while participants pray the rosary.